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CENTRAL AFRICAN HUNTER-GATHERER RESEARCH TRADITIONS - page 2 / 43

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Abstract

The largest remaining groups of mobile hunter-gatherers on earth live in Central Africa.  More than 350,000 foragers (historically referred to as “Pygmies”) from at least 13 distinct ethnolinguistic groups occupy diverse environments in the Congo Basin.  This chapter begins with an overview of these groups, their cultural commonalities, and genetic relationships.  Next, we summarize the personal backgrounds and research trajectories of leading researchers from four national anthropological traditions: Britain, Japan, France, and the United States.  The Congo Basin has attracted particular kinds of researchers and these researchers have influenced how the region’s peoples are represented.  Here we compare and critique traditions, illustrate the strengths of different approaches, and identify common research biases.  These biases include a strong emphasis on ecological studies, conducted predominantly by male researchers, representing a relatively narrow range of national traditions.  We then review major topical and theoretical issues of the last 50 years of Central African anthropology and suggest avenues for future research.

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